Digital-First Leadership

Ep. 19- LinkedIn Algorithm Report with Richard van der Blom

November 02, 2021 Richard Bliss Episode 19
Digital-First Leadership
Ep. 19- LinkedIn Algorithm Report with Richard van der Blom
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Richard dives into LinkedIn strategy again with Richard van der Blom, co-founder of Just Connecting, a LinkedIn and Sales Navigator training company. Richard and Richard discuss the updates, changes, and implications of the newly released 2021 LinkedIn Algorithm Report. 

Go to to download your copy of the report today.

Speaker 1: Welcome to Digital First Leadership. The podcast that focuses on helping leaders and teams understand how to master the language of social media in today's digital first world.

Speaker 2: In this episode, Richard dives into LinkedIn strategy once again, with Richard van der Blom, founder of Just Connecting, a LinkedIn and Sales Navigator training company. Richard and Richard discussed the updates, changes, and implications of the newly released 2021 LinkedIn Algorithm Report. You can go to to download your copy of the report today.

Richard Bliss: Richard, thanks for joining me. You have just released the third annual LinkedIn Algorithm Report. I was happy to be a sponsor of that. This thing has grown so much bigger than when it started. Hasn't it?

Richard van der Blom: Yes, it did. Yeah, launched it last Monday, September 27th for the third year in a row. And it started with a 12 page document, went to a 26 page document, and this edition is 44 pages. Yeah, so we had massive more insights than the previous two years.

Richard Bliss: 44 pages. Now, I was happy to help sponsor that, make that part of it. In just a few second that we have, what would be two or three things that people would take out of this report if they haven't read it?

Richard van der Blom: Well, it's packed with insight, for example, it covers topics like "create mode." It covers topics like "engagement". What is better "like", "comment", "share". It has some stats about company page, stats about timing, hashtag use, it's packed. My main key takeaways would be first, always aim for quality content because you can obey all the rules that are in the 44 page document. But if you don't produce quality content, your audience is not going to engage. And this will make it all stop. And second, dwell time has become more and more Important. So you need to make sure people stay engaged on your post. Whether you do that with a rather personal story, where people need to read a lot, or whether you do that with a video like we are doing now, or maybe even with a document, but keep people engaged on your post.

RIchard van der Blom: Third, timing. We have seen that LinkedIn is still analyzing your post in the first two hours after you have published it. So make sure, preferably, you post it in the mornings, you have the complete day of people being online on LinkedIn and be able to respond to it and do not publish any content in the late afternoon or the early evening because then once LinkedIn is ready to boost your views, everybody will be offline. And then of course engage. And I do not mean only direct engagement, but only also reach out to people that engage with your content. If your content gets comments, if you get questions, respond because over the past two years, the keyword of the LinkedIn algorithm is still interaction. So everything that has to do with interaction with your community and with the order of a piece of content will grow your post .

Richard Bliss: That's excellent information because it's been so useful for us to be part of that, to use it for our training and information. There is a lot of things we can go into detail about, but we'll have to do that on a separate episode. So Richard, thanks for taking just a few minutes to talk about that. I think people should be able to go find it, go to, Is that the website?

Richard van der Blom: Yeah, or just visit my LinkedIn profile. See, my featured section is highlighted there as the first document on my featured section.

Richard Bliss: Richard. One of the things that I kind of want to dive a little bit deeper into is that when you talk about, which is very important, this concept of quality content, one of the things that people have a challenge with is understanding what does quality content look like on LinkedIn? Because a lot of people and you, and I both know this, they think they're creating quality content, but in reality, they're creating some kind of Instagram clickbait, you know, praise quote or something that really isn't holding the attention. When you see quality content, what are you talking about there? 

Richard van der Blom: That is an excellent question because I agree that quality content is a rather abstract phenomenon, no? Quality content, because I can think that I just produce a quality content and my audience somehow is not engaging. I think there are various stuff I don't believe there is one criterion or one definition of quality content. I think first of all, it needs to add value. It needs to add value to a specific group within your network. Because let's be honest, I have about 25,000 connections or followers. You have much more. We cannot be relevant for each one of them with one post, okay? So one of the things I see that people are a bit reluctant, hesitant to post because they think they need to be relevant for all people. They need to have quality content for all people in the network.

Richard van der Blom: It, it cannot be done. If I post something like about my personal life, this group of my network is going to respond. If I post something about the algorithm, this group of my network is going to respond. So first of all, you cannot become relevant for all your network, but it needs to add value. So whether it provides additional insights, whether it helps people making a decision or overcome a challenge in their buying process, it needs to add.

Richard van der Blom: I think also if we talk about quality content, maybe we do not need to speak about one piece of content, but we need to talk about a quality content strategy. Because I always advise people to have a dynamic content strategy on LinkedIn, which means you have your thought leadership content, which is your report, your research, anything that helps your potential clients in their challenges. You have, for example, your personal content, which makes you more human and approachable. And then you have your content where you, for example, have industry-related pieces of content and you add insight by sharing this piece of content from a third-party website and then provide additional insight. So I think it's about the mix of having a dynamic content strategy when you talk about quality content. 

Richard Bliss: Yeah. And I like what you said there, because so often people feel that the content has to consistently be corporate or business oriented. And what you've talked about here is a blend of personal and we draw a distinction, particularly in my book, between personal and private, right? The story I would like to tell it's in the book as well about me. I'm from Olympia, Washington in the United States. I lived in San Diego. I have a brother named John and I'm in the tech industry. Well, if you Google that Richard Bliss, San Diego, the first entry is Richard Bliss from Olympia, Washington with a brother named John living in San Diego, who's been arrested as a spy in Russia, right? And, and so I gave out some personal information, but if you use that, it's not private and it wasn't me, but there are two people there.

Richard Bliss: So that's a story of personal information that's not necessarily private. My point, I guess I wanted to make, was that finding a way, as you said, to be human, to share content. One of the things that we do because in your research, you pointed it out, this concept of documents or carousels, right? Is that I tried to put out carousel on a regular basis where I have seven to 10 slides that is going to teach a segment of my audience something very, very specific to change and help them be more effective. And I think that's when it comes to that quality content. I got to say I got to my own point here, but corporate messaging with corporate stock photos that have corporate announcements is not quality content.

Richard van der Blom: I would agree on that. I know a lot of marketers and communication managers get very nervous now, but I would agree. And even for a company page on LinkedIn, I wouldn't advise to do that. Like stock photos, corporate. I would also start humanizing your company, start even storytelling on your company page. But as a salesperson, as a virtual selling expert, social selling expert, salesperson B to B, you need to understand in 2021, that that is not going to provide you a lot of leads that is not going to engage your audience. It's impossible.

Richard Bliss: And that engagement is what you're talking about because now we're going to take the next step that came out of the researching you mentioned just earlier, and that is dwell time. And there's a belief that, oh, if I make really elaborate videos or elaborate content, that will keep people engaged. And that's what dwell, time's all about. For the audience, let's explain dwell time. Let's help them understand what we mean by dwell time because you and I understand it, but the audience might not know what we're talking about.

Richard van der Blom: Yeah. So LinkedIn does their own research and they discovered in 2020, early 2020, that the vast majority of people on LinkedIn, I think they mentioned 88%, is not posting content or are even using the "like", "comment", "share" button. From this 88%, 60% is consuming content. So they do not post. They do not like, comment, or share. However, they are reading content. They are clicking on attachment. They are clicking on links. So they are content consumers. So this meant that their algorithm before 2020 was built on the behavior of only 12% of the people, the people that publish content and engaged. So they implemented dwell time to tackle the behavior of the 60% of the people that do read, but do not engage.

Richard van der Blom: So what dwell time does now, in a nutshell, first step it counts the second people spend on your post in their screen. Whether it's mobile or desktop, if your post is in their screen and it keeps in the screen for a few seconds, maybe minutes, you will get more views because LinkedIn thinks that the silent majority is engaging because they are reading your post or watching your video or going to your slides share.

Richard van der Blom: Then one of the most important call to action buttons is the "see more" button after the third line on your post.

Richard Bliss: Let me interrupt you there because I've been doing some training on this and some people are confused by that. What we're talking about is if you have more than three lines of content on your post, LinkedIn is going to truncate it, cut it off, and then put a small "see more" link there, right? That's what we mean by that "see more" button. Yep.

Richard van der Blom: Exactly. And people clicking on "see more" for the LinkedIn algorithm, we've discovered that there's even a bigger signal, a more positive impact than a like. So if you would have "like" as one point, people clicking on "see more" will bring you three points and a comment still will bring you seven points. So you need to make sure that people have a reason to click "see more". So that's why I advise my clients at least write eight sentences of text. And as long as you can stay relevant, you can write a longer text post, okay? But be relevant. And then after people click on "see more" and the posts is shown to them in the full screen, they need to stay a few more seconds after clicking "see more". So for example, if you create a post with three lines, I click "see more" and you only have one additional line, LinkedIn thinks after clicking "see more", people move on. So after they click "see more", it's not interesting. So at least have four, five lines after the "see more" button.

Richard Bliss: Yeah. We strongly recommend that your posts have a couple of hundred words, right? 10, 15, 20 lines, not all the time, but at least realizing that you're giving. I mean, look, you got to put the effort in if you want to get the effort out.

Richard van der Blom: Exactly.

Richard Bliss: And that's one of the things that you do there is by writing. Because I have clients who push back and say, "I don't have time for all of that." And it's like, well, you can go click "like", "like", "like", "like", "like" all you want or have people click "like" and feel good. But that's an Instagram metric that does not have hardly any meaning in LinkedIn. Instead, take the time, write what you want to say, give your audience relevance. Because one of the things we continually push forward is your audience does not need you to be a news conduit. They don't need you just to clicking on the "share" button to show them things that they didn't see. No, they want to know why you're clicking on the "share "button. Why you think they should look at that and how it should have an impact on their business or the relationship. And this is the part that you and I have driven home in our social selling and virtual selling in this new hybrid world. Isn't it? 

Richard van der Blom: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And, and just to come back to the statement of salespeople saying, "I don't have the time." I'm going to be very direct about that. If somebody in my training said, "I don't have the time," I always respond, "then you should get another job". Because if you still believe that you can make time to do shitty cold calling, to do email spamming because that's how you supposed to work, and you do not want to change in a way where you can provide more added value and eventually less time. Because if you learn how to do this, I'm 100% convinced that it's more time-efficient than all your cold calling me or cold outreach, where a lot of us people, a lot of salespeople, have grown up with, okay? Because of people, they were thought how to call, how to email, cold calling, cold emailing. So I don't have the time, you know, it's part of your job. It's part of your job to engage with your audience, whether it's on an event offline, or whether it's on an event online. And this is when is called LinkedIn.

Richard Bliss: Oh, I love that. And I completely agree with that. As we wrap up here, what would you say would be one surprise that you took away from the research because you and I both are very close to this. We spend a lot of time talking to our customers, testing it. Was there something that really came out as a surprise?

Richard van der Blom: I think that it's two minor conclusions, which surprised me. But eventually I think, I don't know for sure that I already manage why. And this is what a lot of people do not know. For example, you have written your posts, you publish it, and at the right moment you publish it, you see it typo. So what a lot of people do, they go instantly to the three dots. They click on edit post, they edit the typo and they save it again. Okay. Now we have seen that LinkedIn punishes the reach when you edit your post in the first hour. We have also seen that LinkedIn devaluates your post if you yourself, the first to comment on your own post.

Richard van der Blom: Now, if we go back to the research where we are talking about how to treat external links in your post, which a lot of companies still want to do. A lot of marketing departments, they want to have the traffic from, to the website because that's how the KPIs are built. You have more or less three options. I always say, put the link in the post. You also have edit your post, and you have of course put the link in the first comment. Now, the reason why I think that LinkedIn has a slight decrease, 15%, if you edit or 20% if you comment is to discourage people to use the edit mode or to use the first comment mode. And I know that you advise people to use the edit modes. I know I've seen it in your updates.

Richard van der Blom: And I don't say it's a no go because eventually you will get, we speaking about getting less rich in your first batch, okay? So it's in the first batch because I know if you put out again, quality content, there is no algorithm that can stop like the spreading of your quality content. So, but these were new conclusions because last year we didn't any saw impact about or commenting on your post.

Richard van der Blom: I do have one irritation that I see more and more, I don't know if you've seen it, but a lot of content creators, they put out content and the first 10, and I've seen examples. The first 20 comments were of their own, where they would tag three, four people with a question, add another comment, tag four, five other people, add a question. And then they very proud that they have reached like 80 comments, but 40 comments are of their own or 50 comments of their own. So I've seen this happening with a lot of content creators that they will really try to start like sparkle the fire of comments by commenting like 10, 12 times directly after publishing. And that for me is a No Go.

Richard Bliss: Yeah, so people know where you and I are on this. So for me, and the takeaway was also being the first one to comment was a surprise. Something for me to think about as we talk to our clients. When we talk to our clients, editing the post to add the link afterwards is where we balance out and say, "there's going to be a demotion for the link. There's going to be a demotion for the edit. Eh, we have to make a judgment call." And so we'll go depending on the outcome that we're looking for. And a lot of times it depends on the client.

Richard Bliss: The commenting though, that has been an interesting one because now I have to reevaluate how we do this because we have 10 to 12 comments of calling people out is excessive, but finding one or two where you're doing a campaign to say, "I've made this post and now I want your opinion. I could tag you in the post, but you're not part of the post. I just want your opinion on this." And so we have seen success modified on this where someone would say, so if I was to make a post on the LinkedIn algorithm, I could then say, "Richard, what do you think about this on this particular topic?" And so I usually do you do one or two or three people where you bring them into the conversation, but as you said, the excessive tagging.

Richard van der Blom: Yeah, I think actually to be fair, that is one of the reasons why you could tag people just to bring them in a discussion because to generally want to have their expert opinion about the topic. But I'm talking about excessive tagging, like 12, 15 comments in order to boost the reach in the first hour. So I perfectly agree. However, if I put out a post, I might want to ask somebody in my team or a colleague to give the first comment. Richard Bliss: Yeah. I like that idea.

Richard van der Blom: And then the second and third, I will draw you into the inclusion by tagging the people I want to have in discussion because then I don't get penalized, but still I can bring people into discussion.

Richard Bliss: I think that's great. I think that's great advice. You know what? I think we'll, we're going to leave that there with a great insight for people to think about how they're engaging with their content. Richard, I always appreciate the time that you make available for us to have conversations. It's always fun. You're there in Valencia, Spain, enjoying yourself, the sun and the beach. I know that you're just on the beach all the time, under an umbrella with your toes in the ocean.

Richard van der Blom: I like the idea. I'm not, but I like the idea.

Richard van der Blom: You are working very hard with clients and I'm getting stuck in my office way too many times.

Richard Bliss: I hear you. I hear you. And the same thing here, I'll dip my toes in the Pacific. You dip your toes in the Mediterranean there, and then we'll think about each other that'll work. All right, Richard, thanks so much for joining me.

Richard van der Blom: Ciao ciao. Thank you for being there.

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